Subminimal :: Substance EP (Möller)

On this latest EP, Substance, Subminimal is focused on dub patterns, rarely veering into jungle or drum and bass territories like before.

Icelandic producer Tjorvi Oskarsson, aka Subminimal, created a powerful debut album back in 2014, something that had precision in its production which was heard powerfully on the album tracks. The album was called Sinian and had a wonderful balance about it, managing a depth in ambience beside a bombastic percussion, often happening at the same time. The lasting impression was that for the sake of clarity, Sinian was held back a little.

Yet holding things back a little, or discipline, is perhaps one thing we ought to commend Oskarrson for—as a producer of his own material, he possess the rare ability to refine a product into something functional, something with real substance over style.

On this latest EP, Substance, Subminimal is focused on dub patterns, rarely veering into jungle or drum and bass territories like before. What has directly carried over from Sinian is its tools of production. Each sound heard in Sinian was refined with care, and in Substance, Oskarrson has continued to enhance the contents of his mix with a heightened sense of mastery. Oskarrson’s minimal tendencies narrow his focus with deftness and precision—this helps his sound be noticed.

While Substance maintains the edge and crispness of Sinian, the overall style is different. There is more room for mood and atmosphere this time around.

The opener, and title track, is of a classic dub formula, the first minute or so simply ambient and then a bass thud with a few cymbals heard after. Its got a great groove to it, not mechanical but more loose and bendy with ruminating baselines and swirly ambience as the track heats up. Second track, “Data Terminal” is mostly ambient, a little creepy and distinctly dub at its finale. “Red Shift” has a classic jungle shuffle throughout it, with a flexible baseline underneath, while final number “Unstable” is similar to Autechre, at a more laid back pace.

This is all to say it’s refreshing Subminimal continues on a steady path of exploration, as he attempts various styles across different records. Sinian was a formula which certainly worked and as a record is highly polished. The sound here is of similar brilliance too, carrying over what came before it, but different in character, far more contemplative than the sparse precision beforehand. If it ain’t fixed—upgrade it.

Substance is available on Möller.

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